10 Fitness Hacks You Can't Miss
Use these 10 fitness hacks, from DIY weights to the anywhere step machine, to help you lose the excuses and make fitness doable.
Listen to Audio Books
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If you're sick of the same old workout playlist, switch to an audio book or podcast. Better yet, choose one about running or health to motivate you through fatigue or boredom. Top choices include Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall; In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan; ChiRunning by Danny and Katherine Dryer.
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No dumbbells, no problem. For a weight-focused workout at home, use soup cans. If one is too light, duct tape two together. Other heavy items to incorporate into your workout include spare tires, a backpack filled with books and cast iron pans.
Improve Your Planks With Towels
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Make your waist-whittling plank more effective with towels. Take two and place them under your hands or feet, then slide forward, backward and sideways.
For example, place a towel under each hand while in the plank position. Slide your right hand forward—you'll feel the stretch in your abs—then back to starting position. Do this 10 times on each side, then rest. The same goes for your feet. Try the 30-Day Plank Challenge for more plank exercises.
Monitor Your Steps
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Make rest days a bit more active with a pedometer. Slip it on in the morning and aim for 10,000 steps that day. A study by Department of Exercise and Wellness at Arizona State University found that 10,000 steps a day is considered active, while 12,500 steps is classified as highly active.
Make Your Movie or TV Show Into a Game
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Make the most of your TV time and work out while you watch. There are two ways to do this: Choose one or a variety of exercises to do each time something is said or done on the show or movie that happens frequently. Get some ideas from these examples. Another option is to take advantage of commercial breaks and choose an exercise to do until the show returns.
Use a Personal Trainer From a Distance
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If you don't have cash for a personal trainer, take a lesson from afar. If you see a trainer working with someone in your gym, take note of the exercises they're teaching the client.
Note: If you have specific health and fitness goals or requirements, be careful with what you try. Otherwise, this is a great way to learn new exercises without paying for someone to show you.
Anywhere Step Machine
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Stairs are great for cardio and help to strengthen your quads, butt and calves. Not to mention this exercise is low impact, making it an ideal alternative to running. You don't need to trek to your local gym to find one. Use patio steps, stairs in your house, or the staircase at your local beach. You can also use these to do box jumps, an excellent strength workout.
Ditch the Gadgets; Use Your Cell Phone
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Ditch the GPS tracker, heart rate monitor and more. Instead, make your phone your all-in-one fitness buddy. Here's how:
- Stay pumped with a music app you love. Try 8Tracks, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Pandora.
- Download Evernote, or another note-taking app, and add links to workouts you like or use it to create a workout for yourself. This will keep you on track and help to avoid dawdling.
- Use the built-in timer for tabata workouts or sprints. You don't need a fancy watch for this.
- Download MapMyRun, RunKeeper or Nike+ Running to track mileage, find challenges, and store routes.
- Download Instant Heart Rate, voted as one of the best health and fitness apps in 2011 by the Mobile Premier Awards. This app monitors your heart rate without the use of any external hardware.
Don't miss the best fitness iPhone apps for 2014.
Schedule Workout Reminders via Text
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If you use your phone more than your calendar, plan your workouts and then schedule reminder texts at OhDontForget.com. You can set date and time as well as a description, forever eliminating the excuse that you forgot your date with the gym.
Do Double Duty
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With minimal time, you have to make the most of every minute in the gym. Combine cardio and strength training for a tough workout that you can feel good about. Some ideas to consider:
- Hold dumbbells on your cardio machine of choice, doing bicep curls or shoulder presses for one minute every 3 to 5 minutes.
- Hold dumbbells while you do jumping jacks.
- Wear ankle weights while you walk or jog.